Youth in Brazil
The partnerships between UNESCO and the Brazilian government have played core roles in the designing and implementation of national policy on youth, as well as in the establishment of forums to formulate, implement and monitor programmes focused on youth, in the light of cooperation with the National Youth Department and the National Youth Council.
Data from different sources have consistently shown that youngsters are the main victims and agents of violence. To deepen the knowledge on what causes that, in 1997 the UNESCO Brasilia Office established a line of research on youth, violence and citizenship. Based on the findings of studies carried out up until 2005, the SHS started outlining strategies to manage violence among adolescents and young people and promote their social inclusion.
When it became apparent that acts of violence involving young people increased by 68.2% during weekends, the UNESCO Brasilia Office established a programme in 2000 directed at opening schools on Saturdays and Sundays to provide youngsters and their communities with access to cultural, sports and leisure activities.
The so-called Open School Programme was so successful that in 2004 the Federal Government adopted its methodology as a public policy through a partnership established with the UNESCO Office in Brazil.
Currently, the programme benefits about 4 thousand schools and 4 million individuals all over the country,and has been replicated in Argentina, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.
Also outstanding is the Criança Esperança Programme implemented by UNESCO since 2004, in partnership with TV Globo. It is a programme aimed at social mobilisation and fund raising, which culminates with a show broadcast by TV Globo, collecting about R$ 75 million. Over the years it has supported over 200 projects that contribute to disseminating UNESCO’s priorities all over Brazil. The projects selected are developed mainly in municipalities reporting low Human Development Indexes (HDI) and low Basic Education Development Indexes (IDEB).
The proceeds collected through Criança Esperança also allow for continuously supporting four reference service centres for children, adolescents and youngsters from low-income families in four communities located in regions of social vulnerability. They are the Criança Esperança Centres (ECEs) in the municipalities of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Olinda. The ECEs strive to contribute towards strengthening communities and the surrounding neighbourhoods, developing actions directed at preventing urban violence, disseminating the culture of peace and promoting human rights, providing artistic, cultural, sports activities; capacity-building; citizenship, and, job and income generation.
The programme plays a key role when it comes to improving the lives of vulnerable groups like Afro-descendants, Indigenous peoples, women, children, adolescents, youths in risk situations – like street children, people living with HIV, drug users, victims of domestic and sexual violence – and children, adolescents and young people with special needs. The partnership with TV Globo was extended for an additional six years in July 2008. It ensures high visibility for UNESCO, besides contributing to disseminating the main topics related to its mandate.
As a rule, the interventions carried out by NGOs and supported by UNESCO are those aimed at valuing talents in the community and empowering youngsters to allow them to play a protagonist role in determining their own futures. That can be said of the Afroreggae Cultural Group and the Central Única das Favelas (CUFA), which are both renowned worldwide.
The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), in partnership with the UNESCO Brasilia Office and sponsored by Itaú Cultural and Itaú Social Foundation, will study the experiences developed by those groups, in an attempt to build a methodology to have them replicated.
UNESCO’s agenda on youth is being more and more recognized in Brazil as a reference model, and internationally exhibited, as it was at the UNESCO meeting Youth(at)thecrossroads – a Future without Violent Radicalisation held in Bahrain, in June 2008.